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Isn't obedience legalism?

Isn't obedience legalism?

Some teach that after the law has accomplished its purpose of pointing a sinner to Christ for forgiveness and cleansing, the commandments are no longer needed in the experience of a believer. Is that true?

A Christian will continue to depend upon the “watchdog” of the law to reveal any deviations from the true path of righteousness and to point him or her back to the cleansing cross of Jesus. This mirror of correction will most certainly be needed in the progressive growth experience of the Christian.

Law and grace do not work in competition with one another, but rather they work in perfect cooperation. The law points out our sin, and grace saves from sin. The law is the will of God, and grace is the power to do the will of God. We do not obey the law in order to be saved; rather, we obey because we are saved. Revelation 14:12 says, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the Commandments of God, and the Faith of Jesus." What a perfect description of faith and works! And the combination is found in those who are “saints.”

Our work of obedience is a true test of our love. This is why obedience is necessary in the experience of a true believer. “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). No man ever won a woman’s heart by words alone. Had there been no acts of devotion, no gifts of love, most men would still be searching for a companion. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

A profession of your faith or mere words saying you love the Lord are not enough. The true evidence lies in a person’s obedience. Today’s bumper stickers reflect a shallow concept of love. They say, “Honk if you love Jesus,” but Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). And that is exactly what most people don’t want to do. They are glad to smile and say nice words, but if their lifestyle is disturbed, the majority will reject it. Unfortunately, most people today are not looking for truth. They are looking for a smooth, easy, comfortable religion that will allow them to live the way they please and still give them the assurance of salvation. Yet no true religion can do that for them.

One of the strongest texts in the Bible on this subject is found in 1 John 2:4. “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” The apostle John could write that with such assurance because it is one of the most deeply established truths in the Bible. Jesus spoke of those who say, “Lord, Lord” but do not do the will of the Father. Then He described many who would seek entrance to the kingdom claiming to be workers of miracles in the name of Christ. But He would sorrowfully have to say, “I never knew you. Depart from me.” (See Matthew 7:21–23).

You see, to know Christ is to love Him, and to love Him is to obey Him. The valid assumption of the Bible writers is very clear and simple: If one is not obeying Christ, he or she must not truly love Christ. John assured us, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). Thus, we can see how knowing and loving and obeying are all tied closely together and are absolutely inseparable in the life of God's faithful people. John summed it up in these words: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).


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